The CC Mixter Remix-Project by Calendar Girl // Tamara Barnett-Herrin - better known as calendar girl - started a fantastic project back in October 2006. The idea was simple: Write each month a song and release the original material under a creative commons licence. Than ask other producers and musicians to remix the songs. Now one and a half year laters Calendar Girl looks back on the results: more than 300 remixes! And like she promised she publishes a record with 12 fantastic songs. A story on how to use the web to interact with other musicians worldwide.
“I write one song a month. You remix and feedback. We make a record.”
When and how did you get your idea of your Calendar Songs-Project?
I’d been writing demos in my bedroom for a couple of years, but I kept finding myself very frustrated by the process of never having anything “finished”. And I felt I was working in a vacum. I could play my music to friends and family but getting it “out there” - whatever that means - felt so impossible.
I never want music to become a chore, or to find myself complaining about making music, how hard it is, etc., etc. It became clear to me that this process of making demos can also at the same time make you very bitter! So I tried to think of a way for my music to find another route into the ether…
And obviously putting it online was the best solution. But of course, MySpace isn’t everything… So I kind of fashioned the idea of writing new songs for a website, where I could draw people in by inviting them to remix my songs. I wanted the site to have the air of a challenge to it, something where you could come back to check up on my progress, so I challenged myself to write a new songs each month that had to be inspired by that month.
That way I gave people a reason to come back to the site after their first visit, like “I wonder if she made it this month…”. It all went online in October 2006. It took about two months to put it together from when I had the idea.
If you speak in terms of music-engineering, there is a saying “Garbage in, Garbage out!”. It means, if you record music badly, you can’t do anything to make it sound better. What kind of equipment did you use to produce your songs? Are they all recorded at home?
I’m not sure I agree with that saying. I would rather listen to a bad recording of a good song than an amazing recording of a terrible song. And I put all my faith in people having the same attitude as me, because I know I can’t make the most perfect recordings.
I record at home into Garage Band, I’m terribly lazy, I haven’t even made soundproofing! All the A Cappellas sound like my bedroom! But I made a decision to it this way - to really concentrate on writing instead of spending all my time getting the best equipment and teaching myself how to master it. Maybe I’m a bit of a purist but I like things that sound like what they are.
<img title=”calendar girl in nyc” src=”https://phlow-magazine.com/images/calendar-girl-trumpet-250x187.jpg”On the inner side of the CD you write: “The experience has gone beyond even my most elaborate expectations.” How did you kick off your project? What did you do to let the people know of your project?
I tried to visit internet forums, but you know what its like - nobody likes someone spamming in forums! I wasn’t already embedded in those places. I took a chance and posted an A Cappella at www.ccmixter.org and began to get a lot of remixes from that community. There is an amazing gathering of talent there. But I didn’t spend hours and hours trying to market the site. I wanted to see what would happen.
And of course what happened was that the Internet wove its magic spell and people just ended up finding me. I like how organic and mysterious the Internet can be. I really love the feeling of throwing something (in this case a song) into the darkness and waiting for someone to throw it back to you - that’s what the web represents for me.
Apart from composing each month a new song. How much time did you invest in your project each month?
Usually I spent about three weeks digesting news and ideas and fooling around, not really concentrating on working and then a week in a state of total panic as I tried to finish the song. It was a rollercoaster but I loved it.
You received hundreds of mixes. One of my favorite mixes is the remix for “May” by Apeskinny. The remix does not appear on the album. How did you choose the songs for the compilation?
That’s one of my favorites too. Believe me, I had many, many favorites that didn’t make the record. I can’t explain or justify my decisions other than say that my criteria for selection was very personal and subjective. I chose the remixes that really spoke to, or reflected, the songs. Every mix I chose was not only technically interesting or whatever but also somehow captured the spirit of the song.
For example the January “Stalactite” mix by Max Plank has this frosty arctic feeling to it. The song (original) is all about broken resolutions, and somehow the tone of the mix related to the feeling I was singing about. It’s minimal techno with this long slow build up to the vocal, and there is something shivering and alive in it.
Where can people buy and get your CD? Is it also available for download?
I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you for the interview!
Links to Remixes, Music and Calendar Girl
Audio and Songmaterial: www.ccmixter.org/people/calendargirl/uploads